Here’s the reality: diet trends are both plentiful and fleeting – there are plenty of people and organizations who want to tell you what you can and can’t eat, and the sheer magnitude of them can be overwhelming, discouraging, and provoke skepticism. Often, we’re left wondering how to take the first step towards a healthier lifestyle.
First and foremost, there is no diet out there that is designed to be the perfect diet for everyone. Each person is different, goals and needs vary, and outcomes can be gauged as a success or failure based on all of the above. Lending to the difficult task of maneuvering this landscape is the number of different food intolerances and sensitivities such as gluten and dairy. With all of this in mind, it can be tricky trying to nail down the perfect diet and lifestyle changes for you.
With that said, properly highlighting the pros and cons of each legitimate diet is critical in identifying the right one for you. And while the outcome, most often relating to weight loss, is typically the motivating factor behind why we start any diet, there are many aspects that are important to consider. To capture those aspects, we’ve split them into two distinct parts: Process and Application to daily life.
Part 1: Process
The Ketogenic Diet is essentially a low-carb, high fat diet which causes the body to enter into a state of ketosis. Ketosis is what happens when the body runs out of carbohydrates to burn for fuel and instead turns to breaking down fat for fuel. Ketones, which are the byproduct of this system in which our bodies begin breaking down fat in the absence of carbohydrates, is what our brain switches to for fuel in the absence of glucose. This interesting switch from carbs to ketones is the reason why a ketogenic diet has garnered so much research in epilepsy and other neurological conditions, and is an evidence based treatment for many other types of medical problems. In the simplest terms: instead of burning carbs (sugars) while the body stores fat (muffin top), it begins to burn ketones as the primary energy source, lending to weight loss and several additional mental and physical performance benefits.
To understand this, we need to take a turn back to the issue caused by eating carbs in the first place. When you eat carbohydrate-rich foods, such as pasta and potatoes, our bodies know to break this down into glucose (i.e. sugar). Glucose isn’t all bad as it is needed in the creation of an energy molecule called ATP, which is something required to fuel our bodies in our everyday lives.
It is true that our bodies use a lot of glucose in daily functioning, but that extra glucose that our bodies don’t use (you know, the ones from the second helping of spaghetti) is stored in two different steps. The first being Glycogenesis, which is when the excess glucose gets converted to glycogen and gets stored in the liver and muscle. Our bodies can only produce a certain amount of glycogen, and the excess glucose gets converted into fats and stored in the second step of the process, called Lipogenesis. When our bodies don’t produce this excess glucose, Ketosis happens.
Now that our bodies are going through the process of ketosis and are being deprived of carb-turned-glucose, molecules called ketones will be created from fat. This happens through the body’s natural function and ability to switch metabolic pathways to burn fat instead of glucose. These ketones are used by our muscles and brain for fuel, and is often why keto-dieters claim they have a clearer mind when going through the process. In fact, this state of being and the benefits associated is backed by evolutionary history and evidence. When humans had little access to glucose-rich foods, their bodies relied on fatty foods as their fuel backup.
Part 2: Application to daily life
Maintaining and managing a keto diet is a significant commitment that isn’t simply limited to cutting out carbs. Part of the challenge is in making sure that your body is also getting its necessary vitamins and minerals. Beyond this, several people also note some uncomfortable side effects, and although this can be true of the keto diet, side effects can be avoided by doing upfront research before you commit to the diet. The right preparation will save you from potential disruptions to your digestive track, headaches, weakness, and muscle cramping, among others.
On that note, here’s how to sidestep potentially adverse side effects! Drinking water is among the most important on the list during your keto experience. If you think you’ve consumed enough water, drink even more. It’s also important to supplement your vitamins and minerals that you’ll no longer be getting from your diet. Magnesium helps with cramping muscles and sodium for headaches.
During your first few weeks of ketosis, it’s likely that most the weight you lose will be water and sodium weight. To replenish your sodium levels, try drinking a cup of broth with your meal. Vegetables are rich in Potassium, which you’ll need for managing weakness, and speaking with a trusted medical professional on enzymes is important in the digestion of fats. Remember, if you aren’t digesting the excess fat levels, you’re most likely not in a state of ketosis.
Interestingly, a ketogenic diet is beneficial not only to those looking to lose weight, but also for those suffering from epilepsy. Research shows that seizures typically improve in about 50% of epilepsy patients who follow the classic ketogenic diet, and those suffering from conditions such as autism, diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, some types of cancers and obesity stand to benefit as well. Much of the foundation for the positive effects of a ketogenic diet on these diseases is in a lowered carb intake, in that reducing carbohydrates will reduce glucose levels and therefore blood sugar, insulin, and over-stimulation.
Committing to a Keto diet is no small matter, particularly during those critical initial weeks. Over the past years we have witnessed the most common mistake people make when attempting a keto diet: overconsuming protein and not consuming enough fat throughout the day. However, like anything worth doing, dedication, patience, and the adaptation of your routine around this augmented lifestyle will yield truly positive results. Contact us today for insight on how you can implement a Keto diet into your life, from those of us currently doing the same!